Biden nominates Rick Spinrad to head NOAA

U.S. President Joe Biden announced on Thursday that he has nominated Rick Spinrad, a professor of oceanography at Oregon State University and the former chief scientist for NOAA, for the position of NOAA administrator.

The nomination comes as NOAA is amidst the longest period without a Senate-confirmed administrator since its creation in 1970. Former U.S. President Donald Trump had nominated Barry Myers – the former CEO of AccuWeather – to the position in 2017, but his nomination was never brought to a full vote before Myers ultimately withdrew from consideration.

The nomination of Spinrad has been applauded by members of the seafood industry, scientific community, and environmental NGOs.

“We are pleased to see Rick Spinrad, an experienced oceanographer with a long history of working at the nexus of science and policy, nominated to be the next NOAA administrator. As the former chief scientist for NOAA, Dr. Spinrad understands the importance of keeping science at the heart of NOAA's mission and work,” Seafood Harvesters of America Executive Director Leigh Habegger said in a release.

The Environmental Defense Fund said that Spinrad is a “strong advocate for healthy oceans and ecosystems,” and also approved of his nomination to the position of NOAA Administrator.

“I had the privilege to work alongside Dr. Spinrad during my time at NOAA, and I saw firsthand how dedicated he is to NOAA’s mission and its people,” EDF Senior Vice President of Ecosystems and Oceans Eric Schwaab said. “He understands and consistently communicates how critical NOAA is to the nation and to each citizen. After four years of neglect and denial of science, Dr. Spinrad is the perfect person to bolster the spirits of the NOAA workforce, align them around the critical work before us, and personally lead the way forward.”

The Stimson Center, as well, welcomed the nomination of Dr. Spinrad as an “excellent choice.”

“As a well-regarded scientist, Dr. Spinrad will bring scientific credibility and science-based decision-making back to NOAA so that Americans and their communities can be confident that the information they receive for decisions about their health, safety, and economic well-being is accurate,” Stimson Center Director of the Environmental Security Program Sally Yozell said. “NOAA provides a wide range of products and services related to weather, climate, tides, coastal resilience, and the status of fisheries. Knowledge-based products are especially important after the previous administration jettisoned science for politics, as we witnessed during ‘Sharpiegate’ and the altering of climate reports.”

Biden also recently announced the nomination of Monica Medina to the position of assistant secretary of oceans and international environmental and scientific affairs for the U.S. State Department. Medina is a former principal deputy undersecretary of commerce for oceans and atmosphere, served as general counsel of NOAA, and is the founder of Our Daily Planet.

“President Biden knows that economic growth and a healthy planet go hand-in-hand, and the State Department is critical to furthering sustainability globally,” Schwaab said. “Monica’s appointment comes at a critical time as the world begins to recover from the pandemic and continues to confront the climate, ocean and biodiversity crises.”

Seafood Harvesters of America also welcomed Medina’s nomination.

“We look forward to working with Medina to safeguard our oceans’ health in the face of climate change while simultaneously providing food to millions around the world,” Habegger said.  

Photo courtesy of NOAA


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